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Jet crisis escalates as govt steps in, pilots threaten to go on strike


New Delhi: The pilots of beleaguered Jet Airways on Tuesday threatened to stop flying from April 1 if their pending salaries are not cleared by March-end.

In a statement, the National Aviators Guild, the registered pilots’ union of Jet Airways said: “If there is no proper clarity on resolution process for salary payment by March 31, then Jet Airways pilots will stop flying from April 1.”

The pilots’ decision comes close on the heels of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) holding an emergency meeting earlier on Tuesday after DGCA also asked all domestic airlines to increase seat capacity and keep the fares in check, Jet Airlines Maintenance Engineers Welfare Association (JAMEWA) voiced safety concerns.

JAMEWA had written to the aviation regulator, voicing concerns over aircraft safety and the fact that they have not been paid salaries for three months.

“It has been arduous for us to meet our financial requirements, the result of which has adversely affected the psychological condition of aircraft engineers at work. Therefore the safety of public transport airplanes being flown by Jet Airways across India and the world is at risk,” the JAMEWA said in a communication to the DGCA.

Minister for Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu has also directed the ministry officials to assess the impact of airline grounding more than half of its fleet.

On Monday, the beleaguered carrier said that it has grounded four more aircraft and cancelled all flights to Abu Dhabi.

“While the senior management is finding a resolution to be in business, we the engineers who inspect, troubleshoot and certify the public transport airplanes for its airworthiness are in tremendous stress due to non-payment of salaries on time since the last seven months. As of now, three month’s of salary is overdue to us,” said JAMEWA.

DGCA officials said the current availability of aircraft in Jet’s fleet of 120 for operation is 41. Accordingly, the schedule for 603 domestic flights and 382 international flights has been drawn.

As the carrier faces the worst financial crisis of its 25-year existence, it has defaulted on loans and payments to leasing companies.

DGCA officials instructed the airline to comply with relevant provisions of the applicable civil aviation requirements for facilitation of passengers regarding timely communication, compensation, refunds and providing alternate flights wherever applicable.

The data is will be regularly monitored and DGCA will ensure that all aircraft in operation and on the ground are maintained in accordance with the approved maintenance programme.

“The operator was also directed to ensure that no pilot, cabin crew member or aircraft maintenance engineer reporting stress of any nature is rostered on duty,” said a DGCA official.

The DGCA also asked all domestic airlines to increase seat capacity and keep the fares in check.

Meanwhile, Prabhu said the civil aviation ministry will continue to examine issues like advance bookings, cancellations, refunds and safety.

On Monday, the company said it is actively engaged with all its aircraft lessors and regularly provides them with updates on the efforts undertaken to improve its liquidity. The lessors have been supportive of the company’s efforts in this regard.

Jet also said it is also making all efforts to minimise disruption to its network, and proactively informing and re-accommodating its passengers.